04 March 2013

POP REVIEW: The Walking Dead (S3, E12) "Clear"

We love the entertainment industry, a bit too much sometimes, and when we find a good show or movie we tend to become slightly enamored. Our series POP REVIEW is here so we can put our thoughts out there about big bads, gooey romantic obsessions, favorite characters, and sometimes things we just don't like. In this series we will discuss the most current episodes of any given show or recent movie we've seen and we encourage all fans to comment, discuss, and share your thoughts with us! There will be spoilers, but we'll save them for after the jump. If you opt to open the full post and accidentally ruin something for yourself, we warned you.

This week we picked up The Walking Dead with Rick, Michonne, and Carl on the road. We're not entirely sure where they're going, but before we even have too long to dwell on that we meet Backpack Guy... who gets completely ignored by the group. You almost feel sorry for him, but at the same time he could be anyone and they have a lot of their own shit going on. Sorry Backpack Guy.

After getting stuck in the mud, killing a few walkers, getting the car back on the road, and once again ignoring Backpack Guy running into the background begging for help, we quickly learn that Rick is literally heading home.

The Grimes' hometown in King County, Georgia looks much different than when Rick left in Season One. Traps have been set for walkers and the unsuspecting. Words are spray painted warning any human visitors to leave. And it's apparent that whomever is residing here is ready for a fight, and it doesn't take the mystery man long to make his appearance.

Sporting a helmet and a rifle we meet him standing atop a building, commanding Rick, Carl, and Michonne to leave their weapons and get out of town. Rick is going nowhere, after all he used the be Sheriff around here. He sends Carl back to the car while Michonne attempts to sneak up on the man by scaling a nearby building.

Now, if you're an avid watcher you likely remember that when Rick set out to find Lori and Carl in the first season he left friends behind - the man that saved his life, Morgan, as well as his son Duane. While watching this scene unfold part of us wanted it to be Morgan, and part of us really hoped it wasn't - after all he is threatening to kill Rick and company.

A few shots are fired (looks like someone needs some practice with that rifle) and moments later he has moved down from his rooftop to the street, mere feet away from Rick. It's fairly obvious at this point that someone is getting shot, and while we're all pondering what Rick will do next Carl steps out of the shadows and shoots the mystery man, right in the chest. Have we mentioned that Carl has become quite the badass since his days of constantly being told to "Stay in the house!" back in Season Two? The man is down, but there's no blood. It's revealed that he's wearing a bulletproof vest and has only sustained a large bruise on his ribcage.

Finally the moment we've been waiting for - Rick unveils the masked man and it's MORGAN! Our first thought: Now, where's Duane? The group carefully takes Morgan back up to his apartment, living quarters, lair if you will, avoiding several booby traps along the way, including a trip wire that will literally split your face open when it triggers an axe to fall. Upon entering Morgan's lair we see a stock pile of weapons, artillery, and the glaring antics of an unwell individual - walls covered in chalk and spray paint notes of what has went on here since Rick left. Some of these notes regard areas of town that have been "cleared," some are accounts of who "turned," and more of them appear to be the ramblings of a crazy man. It's during this time that Rick noticed the message "Duane turned" painted on the wall and we all know the fate of Morgan's son.

Michonne is ready to get back on the road, because ain't nobody got time for this crazy, but Rick (who we might note is battling his own crazy) refuses to leave without talking to Morgan first. The best part of this scene: Michonne starts munching on Morgan's chips, and when Rick questions her she simply says "The mat said 'Welcome.'" Touche Michonne! It's great to see her personality and sense of humor start to shine through. This is also big because to me it seems like Michonne is growing comfortable being part of Rick's group, she's allowing her guard to come down, which we'll talk more about later.

Carl tries to head off on a crib-hunting expedition solo, but Rick doesn't really like the idea. Michonne knows that something else is going on and offers to go with him. The two set out and it isn't long before Carl attempts to distract Michonne and take off, but what he doesn't realize is that Michonne is not his half-crazed father. Carl's actual quest? To obtain a photo from a local bar of his family for Judith.

The pair fashion some lovely caged-rat-skateboard decoys and roll them into the establishment to distract the walkers before heading inside. Now, this wouldn't be a show without some drama so of course Carl is almost bitten as he tries to secure the photo, but is saved by Michonne. Before you breathe a sigh of relief however, a free rat causes an even bigger problem that results in Carl and Michonne having to fight their way out of the bar against a hoard of walkers. In the mess Carl drops the picture just as they slip out the door. (Nice job Carl.) With the hoard beating on the door he is still insisting on going back in, but Michonne literally tells him to cut the bullshit and offers to go back in herself. Not only does she appear to go unnoticed by the walkers, she grabs Carl's picture along with something she desperately wanted from the bar - the most hideous cat statue of all time, which she tells Carl is beautiful. She's Michonne, so she can fancy whatever she likes, but this exchange was priceless.

In the mean time Morgan wakes up and makes Rick look like the most sane person on planet earth. After yelling at Rick for "wearing a dead man's face" and attempting to stab him several times Morgan finally succeeds. It's obvious that losing his son has driven him to the edge of his sanity. Rick subdues him while Morgan begs to be killed. Rick bandages his wound while continuing to talk to Morgan, who eventually recognizes him. Sadly, the recognition isn't enough. We learn that Morgan never killed his walker wife, who we met in Season One, and in a turn of events she killed their son Duane.

Since the loss of his son Morgan has slowly gravitated away from reality and into his own little world where he believes that his only mission is to "clear." Rick cannot persuade him to join their group and come back to the prison, and given his mental state I'm not sure that Rick truly wanted that by this time any way especially after he tells Rick that his son will die, because everyone dies. Morgan doesn't mind parting ways with the guns and Rick seems to understand that he wants to be alone.

Michonne and Carl meet Rick on the street carrying a pack-n-play, ready for the return to the prison. Morgan is in the background clearing the walkers when Carl apologizes for shooting him. Morgan tells Carl to never be sorry. As the group pack the guns and supplies into the car Carl comments that Michonne is one of them before taking his seat. She walks up moments later and once Carl is gone tells Rick that she knows he see things and that it's okay, she used to talk to her dead boyfriend. Rick and Michonne bonding, that's what we need more of!

As the group drives back to the prison in the sunset we wait to learn one thing: the fate of Backpack Guy. They encounter the initial wreck that led to their car getting stuck and once around it we see Backpack Guy's camping backpack, which they pick up before continuing on.

Whew. Can we all agree that The Walking Dead's "Clear" is one of the most amazing episodes in the show's history?

I think the first thing we need to address Backpack Guy's importance - while a very minor role, this simple storyline shows us the main theme of the episode - you cannot survive alone. This theme is further expanded upon when the group meets Morgan, who has lost his sanity to loneliness. His only mission is to clear because he believes that the "weak will inherit the earth" - not the good people or the bad people because they have to make the hard decisions, where as the weak cower in the shadows. This interaction with Morgan was a very clear picture of what is in store for Rick's future if he continues to live in his current state of mind - obsessing over things that are not there and focusing on loss that cannot be changed.

Along the lines of this same theme, we also see where Carl could have potentially met his end in the bar had it not been for Michonne. And of course, Michonne herself plays into the theme is a slightly different way - she has been alone for some time, but instead of losing her sanity she has lost who she is. True, it's not necessarily bad that she doesn't have trust for people or that she doesn't let her guard down so easily, but it could be those very reasons that pushed Andrea away because it makes it harder for others to know her and form relationships.

I predict that next week we'll see the Ricktatorship back in action, perhaps not completely, but after the incident in King County it's practically impossible that he is going to continue down his crazy path.

It's also a huge relief to see Michonne connecting to the other survivors and becoming "one of them." Rick has been very clear that she is to leave once she is healed, but it seems more and more unlikely that she's going anywhere. It can't hurt that Carl put in a good word for her either, especially after his earlier actions.

Carl is still a child, but at the same time he's not. After putting a gun in his hand last season Rick had so many of his own issues to deal with that he seemed to lose sight of Carl and he has no idea what the kid is capable of. I think he was just as surprised as we were when Carl shot Morgan. I hope this realization by Rick means he will finally start to pay more attention to his son.

What were your thoughts on this week's episode?


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  1. That episode was crazy good! Morgan set up the town like the game mouse trap! Can't wait for next week!

    Sincerely, Sara

  2. Woohoo, another Walking Dead fan! I can't wait for next week either. I'm really curious to see what's going to happen in Daryl's story line - he's my favorite!

    ps.I just visited your page to try and sort out my GFC problem from earlier and it looks like it sorted itself out :)

    creative sweet

  3. I felt so bad for Backpack Guy! Rick used to be so compassionate and did all he could to help others. I know he's been through some stuff, but I sure do miss that Rick.
    Jillian- PS if you have a moment, I'd love to invite you to the giveaway we're hosting for a $50.00 giftcard from Shabby Apple!